by Abby Mowinski
I used to brag about how swimming and running were such a better deal than cycling…all you need is a swim cap and goggles or a pair of running shoes. So what happens when you put those two together? Apparently, with SwimRun, the sum is greater than its parts.
Since these races are point-to-point, everything you want and need for the race is required to be on you at all times. Whatever items you start the race with, you must end the race with. Additionally, unlike triathlon, there are no transition zones between the disciplines. Due to these requirements, participants either use specialized equipment or simply MacGyver what they already have on hand.
Abby MacGyver-ed out and ready for anything
(1) Wetsuit: At press time, this weekend’s SwimRunNC water temps are measuring at 59 degrees (lake) and 52 degrees (river). Clearly, the wetsuit is an essential piece of equipment for the swim, but in this race, it needs to be designed for miles and miles of overland racing as well. Allison and I will be wearing the Orca SwimRun Core, which has a number of features that optimize its use in these conditions. The Core is a shorty that has a front zipper which allows the wearer to ventilate to better thermoregulate during the run, an integrated pocket for carrying nutrition, and extra elasticity in the shoulders and between the legs to facilitate good rotation and freedom of movement.
Allison and Abby wearing their Orca SwimRun Core
(2) Shoes: The search for trail shoes that were lightweight, buoyant, offer great traction, and minimize water pickup led me to IceBug and their Zeal RB9X model. The SwimRunNC course boasts some impressive scrambling up waterfalls, so this Swedish shoe, designed for purely off-road pursuits, fit my needs. That being said, the shoe is quite minimalist, and as a pronator with a history of plantar fasciitis, I am logging the vast majority of my training miles in my regular trail shoes and have saved the Zeals for dress rehearsals and the actual race.
(1) Pull Buoy and Paddles: Due to the drag created by the shoes and any additional carried weight (ex. hydration belt or pack), a pull buoy that is secured to the thigh so that it can easily be transitioned to
the outer thigh for the run and hand paddles are often used.
A little ingenuity to secure the pull buoy to the body. Secure, stable, but able to be adjusted for swim and run.
Allison modeling the extra hydration and swim equipment. Notice the running shoes as well.
As far as training and preparation for the race, I have switched the majority of my road running to trail in the past few weeks. My favorite route is what I call my “Ohio run” at Stone Mountain: a loop on the
Cherokee Trail around the base, followed by a run up and back down, followed by another loop around (what’s round on the ends and high in the middle?). In the pool, I have been pulling sets of 300s-400s with my shoes on, then jumping out and running laps around the pool deck.
Between uncompromising work schedules, kiddo activities, and family commitments, finding time to schedule SwimRun partner training with Allison has been challenging to say the least. However, we have knocked out a few joint trail running sessions to find our groove on the land and a pool practice in our Orca SwimRun Core wetsuits to get a feel for our pace side by side. I am happy to report that matching our paces on the trail and in the water has been rather effortless (that, or Allison is going easy on me, which is a strong possibility). We have also done “remote dress rehearsal training” – Allison at Red Top, GA and me in Lake Keowee, SC to simulate the race with all of our gear.
Current water levels indicate that much of the swim portion of the course may end up being too shallow to swim, so the ATL Amphibians may not have the opportunity to showcase our strongest suit. That being said, we signed up for a challenge and an adventure – and there is no doubt that SwimRun NC Will offer us all that and more. Heck, the best part of all is that I’m coming out of this with a new friend – and that, as we all know, is priceless.
The ATL Amphibian training together, Strong competitors using their strengths to race a different kind of race. And it will be epic. Stay tuned for a race report. The race is this weekend.